When I was a kid, I remember seeing a movie called “Hill House.” I tried diligently afterward to forget everything I saw. Same with Amityville Horror.” I didn’t want to remember. I didn’t want to know; to have those vivid pictures in my mind. Because I knew they were not just images in a movie. I knew they were reality. I lived them. Growing up, this was my reality.
It sounds insane. I don’t understand it to this day. But I saw them. Spirits. Demons. They came to me most evenings. Their whispers echoed in my ears. They laughed in glee at my fear. They terrorized me.
They danced in my bedroom at night. They made noises. Their presence evoked a terror beyond anything I can even begin to put into words. I was paralyzed by them. Tormented. A door had been opened and I desperately longed to close it and to deny it existed. But they came far too many nights to remind me that they were always only a thin veil away. Sometimes, they even came in the daylight.
Last week, I read something that absolutely set me back on my heels. Completely grabbed my attention. It had to do with the male child from Amityville Horror. Evidently there is a new movie being made about his experiences (he’s a real person!) and he was interviewed about what he remembers of the horrors he knew in that house growing up. The thing that grabbed me around the neck was that he was being sexually abused at the time.
As was I.
People have lived in the house since he and his family lived there and had no problems, no strange encounters, no weird or frightening experiences at all. likewise, my childhood girlfriend bought my parents house – the one where I was terrorized – and she has had no problems, no strange encounters, no weird or frightening experiences at all. In fact, I visited her last year and I was amazed at the difference in the feel of the house. She and her husband have done a lot of work to it. It looked wonderful. But it FELT even better. And it never felt that way when I was living there. Ever.
That house was hostile when I grew there. When I was being abused by my parents; sexually abused by my father. It was overrun with demons. They danced in the halls and delighted in my trauma. I believed it was haunted because my father tore down an old movie theater and a train depot for the wood that he used in building it. But it is obvious to me now that this is not the case. It wasn’t the house. The house is just that…a benign object now inhabited by a loving family. The difference is the people who live there.
Which brings me to the crux of my dilemma. And cuts to the heart of my delusions.
The question that haunts me now, much as the demons haunted me when I was a child, is simply, how much of what I experienced was real and how much was but what I perceived as being reality because it echoed the terror, torment and horror of what was being done to me in that house? How much of the demonic manifestation, if any, really happened? Or was it merely a reflection of the sexual abuse by my father that I was being forced to endure? Were there tormenting spirits? Or was he the tormentor and the insubstantial ghosts that filled the darkness where I dwelt simply handy scapegoats who bore the blame for my nightmarish existence because I couldn’t bear to face or cope with my reality?
The past is now as filmy as were the apparations that danced in the darkness of my childhood. I will probably never be able to see with clarity what smokescreens I placed before my own eyes so I wouldn’t have to see. So I will probably never know if many demons filled the night or if the only demon who visited my bed beneath the cloak of darkness was my father.